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Return of history in schools to boost nation-building, says Fayemi

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The children of Emeritus Professor Ade Ajayi, Dr. Niyi Ade Ajayi (left) and Yetunde Aina; with Ekiti State Governor, Kayode Fayemi; former president of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO), Prof. Michael Omolewa; Vice Chancellor, University Of Ibadan, Prof. Idowu Olayinka; and Head, Department of History, UI, Prof. Tayo Adesina, at the international conference in memory of the emeritus professor at UI…yesterday. PHOTO: NAJEEM RAHEEM.

Chairman of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF), Dr. Kayode Fayemi, has pleaded that the return of history in schools should serve as a lever to Nigeria’s development quest.

The Ekiti State governor made the submission while addressing newsmen after he delivered his goodwill message at an international conference in memory of the late Emeritus Prof. Jacob Ade Ajayi with the theme, “African History and Historiography: Illumining the Pathways and Understanding the Challenges.”

The programme was organised by the Department of History, University of Ibadan, in conjunction with the J.F. Ade Ajayi Foundation yesterday in the ancient city.

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Fayemi, who was special guest of honour on the occasion, said: “We commend the current government for returning History to the curriculum. But it is not enough. What is the nature of History that is even being returned? It is a contested space and we have to ensure that those who are students and scholars of History play actively in that contested space to define the character and content of our history, so that outsiders will not define it for us.”

“The most important role of history in any society is nation-building. It is when you learn about your past that you can inform your present, and your future of the trajectory and how you fit into that entire world-view.”

“The lesson of history and the lesson of the Ade Ajayi’s era are that they confronted the circumstances of their era with creativity and innovation. The colonialists said Africa had no history. Ade Ajayi and his colleagues – the generation of scholars that emerged in the post world war era – said we have a history and we have had traditional political formations way back before the colonialists came here.”

The governor noted that Nigeria had not harnessed the potential of history to engender national unity and development.


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